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Learn more founder Richard Liu Qiangdong has settled a festering legal dispute with former University of Minnesota student Liu Jingyao. Photo: Reuters

Chinese billionaire Richard Liu settles civil suit over alleged rape in US a day before the founder was to face trial

  • The founder reached a settlement with former University of Minnesota student Liu Jingyao, who accused him of rape in 2018
  • ‘The parties agreed to set aside their differences … to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit,’ law firm Florin Roebig said
Chinese tech billionaire Richard Liu Qiangdong has reached a settlement with former University of Minnesota student Liu Jingyao, who accused the founder of rape in 2018, a day before a jury trial was to start in Hennepin County District Court in the state of Minnesota.

“The incident between Ms Jingyao Liu and Mr Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families,” Florin Roebig, a law firm representing the plaintiff Liu, said in a statement on Sunday.

“Today, the parties agreed to set aside their differences, and settle their legal dispute in order to avoid further pain and suffering caused by the lawsuit,” the firm said. It added that there will not be any further comment from all parties involved. founder Liu, however, issued a separate statement on Sunday, apologising to his wife Zhang Zetian, and thanking her for tolerance and support. “I hope that my life and work can go back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.
Hennepin County Government Centre, located in downtown Minneapolis in Minnesota, houses the Hennepin County District Court where the civil trial against founder Richard Liu Qiangdong was to be held. Photo: Shutterstock

A jury of 12, including seven women and five men, had been selected as of September 30 to hear the civil suit, according to a report published that day by Minnesota newspaper Star Tribune. These jurors were supposed to be present during opening statements of the trial on October 3.

Before their settlement, details of which were not released, the plaintiff had asked the court for damages and punitive judgment against defendant Liu, who is estimated by Forbes to be worth US$10.9 billion as of October 2.

Their agreement closes a sordid chapter for the founder, who has avoided the limelight since August 31, 2018, after he was arrested and briefly detained by Minneapolis police for the alleged rape.


US police release Chinese tycoon Richard Liu’s alleged rape case files

US police release Chinese tycoon Richard Liu’s alleged rape case files

Liu, who had maintained his innocence through representatives, was jailed for about 17 hours before being released by police. Hours later, he flew to China, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

In December 2018, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office decided not to prosecute Liu. In a statement, local prosecutors said: “It was determined there were profound evidentiary problems which would have made it highly unlikely that any criminal charge could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But that did not stop his accuser Liu – the two persons are not related – from filing a civil suit for alleged rape against the tech billionaire in April 2019. founder Richard Liu Qiangdong and wife Zhang Zetian attend the wedding of Britain’s Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on October 12, 2018. Photo: YouTube
One of the most recognised leaders in China’s internet industry, Liu built from a small operation selling electronics out of a stall in Beijing’s Zhongguancun into one of the country’s largest e-commerce companies to rival Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post.
In April, Liu stepped down as’s chief executive to join other high-profile Chinese tech founders who have retreated from their companies’ daily operations amid Beijing’s crackdown on the internet sector. Last month, Liu also relinquished his equity interests in two affiliated companies.
As of June, Liu has cashed out nearly US$1 billion from since relinquishing his role as chief executive, according to public filings.